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Limestone Rotary donation helps local group feed community members

LIMESTONE, Maine — When members of the Limestone United Methodist Church and Age Friendly Limestone formed The Purple Ladle in early 2020, they intended to serve free weekly lunches and dinners to people in need at the church.

The COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed their plans. As community members opted to not meet in person, the group began delivering hundreds of hot meals every week and have not stopped working since then.

“To date, we have delivered 17,435 meals in Limestone and Caswell,” said Cheryl Stratton, pastor of Limestone United Methodist Church. “We have served as many as 214 meals a week and probably serve around 114 meals a week now.”

The Purple Ladle has 12 regular volunteers who spend much of their days in the church kitchen preparing meals of macaroni and cheese, pasta, roast pork, rice, soup, vegetables and various desserts for delivery. The group’s hard work has led to the need for a new commercial-style oven and cooking equipment to keep up with demands.

That is why the Limestone Rotary Club has donated $2,558 to The Purple Ladle for those purchases. The club became aware of The Purple Ladle’s needs after Dave King, a Rotary and Methodist Church member, suggested the donation.

The Limestone Rotary Club presented The Purple Ladle with a check for $2,558 Thursday to purchase a new oven and cooking equipment. Pictured from left to right are Rotary Club President Debbie Rhome, Treasurer Cliff Rhome, Limestone United Methodist Church Pastor Cheryl Stratton, Stratton’s granddaughter Ezzy Fosmire, 3, Purple Ladle volunteer Sharon Berz and Rotary Club member Lisa Cantafio. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

Rotary President Debbie Rhome said that club members have been impressed with the dedication of Purple Ladle volunteers.

“It’s good to know that we’ll be helping people who can provide these meals to the community,” Rhome said.

Unlike more formal food programs, The Purple Ladle does not have age or income requirements. Volunteers have delivered to homebound senior citizens, families with children and individual people facing unemployment or other unexpected circumstances.

“If you tell us you need food, we’ll believe you and we’ll give you food,” Stratton said. 

Those who wish to volunteer with The Purple Ladle or sign up for food deliveries can contact Limestone United Methodist Church at 325-4874 or limestoneumc@gmail.com

Pete and Cheryl Stratton package meals of pasta to be delivered by The Purple Ladle volunteers. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

The Purple Ladle volunteer Carol Castle prepares meals of macaroni and cheese and broccoli at Limestone United Methodist Church. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

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